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Chile is a long way from Microsoft Research Redmond, but its bright, inquisitive students and talented, motivated professors share our fascination in the promise of innovative software technologies. Our shared values were on clear display when representatives from Microsoft Research visited the University of Chile and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile on May 6, 2014. Such visits enable us to check our technologies in new environments, and they always raise interesting new avenues to pursue.
Professor Sergio Ochoa was our host at the University of Chile, the country’s oldest and largest institution of higher learning, with approximately 38,000 students spread across a full range of academic divisions. The University of Chile was founded in 1842, the first in the country, and now has students in a full range of faculties and schools. We met faculty who had come from all over the world, enriching the domains and standards of the opportunities for the students.
At the University of Chile, standing, from left: Prof. Sergio Ochoa, Dr. Michal Moskal, Dr. Judith Bishop, Prof. Maria Cecilia Bastarrica, Diego Muñoz, and Prof. Alexandre Begel. Kneeling from left: Prof. Jeremy Barbay and Dr. Mircea Lungu
While there, we presented a workshop entitled, “TouchDevelop: Create Rich Mobile Cloud Apps on Your Device” to students from the computer sciences department. During the workshop, students peppered us with perceptive questions, particularly about the cloud experience that TouchDevelop offers. In explanation, Michal Moskal, a researcher at Microsoft Research, developed a chat program in TouchDevelop, showing how data can be given a “cloud” tag that makes it updateable by many users simultaneously.
The obvious follow-up question was whether TouchDevelop could also enable several programmers to work on the same code simultaneously. We believe that teamwork is very important, and we were glad to be able to announce that this capability is being built into TouchDevelop and will be released soon.
Students work on multiple platforms with TouchDevelop at the University of Chile.
At the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Professor Andrés Neyem organized a workshop titled, “Lab of Things – Deploying Connected Devices for Research.” At the workshop, Arjmand Samuel and Ratul Mahajan, both from Microsoft Research, talked about the Lab of Things and how this platform could be used to scale up research that relies upon connected devices and sensors. Faculty and students who were present at the workshop raised interesting questions regarding the infrastructure, network protocols, and the security and privacy of data collected as part of such research. Professor Neyem also talked about his research interests in connecting healthcare devices in homes and beyond. Specifically, he showed a demonstration of a pulse-rate monitor that is being developed in collaboration with the university’s School of Nursing, which could be deployed to about 25 homes by using the Lab of Things.
As eager as the students and faculty were at both universities, we came away just as enthused about possible links with these outstanding institutions. We look forward to working with the University of Chile to improve TouchDevelop and expand its reach, and to collaborating with the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in deploying the Internet of Things.
—Judith Bishop, Director of Computer Science, Microsoft Research
—Arjmand Samuel, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research
This year, the Brazilian Symposium on Computer Networks and Distributed Systems (SBRC 2014) is discussing, among other topics, cloud computing, which is a fantastic technology that provides new services and applications for users and helps accelerate research in different domains. Cloud computing is expected to become even more prominent in the coming years...
—Antonio Alfredo Loureiro, full professor, Computer Science Department, Federal University of Minas Gerais
I am happy to give a quick report following last week’s 2014 Brazilian Symposium on Computer Networks and Distributed Systems (better known by its Portuguese acronym: SBRC), one of the most prestigious events for the Brazilian computer science community. It was held May 5–9, in the seaside town of Florianópolis and included a range of topical workshops, panel discussions, and demos being delivered by internationally renowned researchers. The conference had 21 technical sessions covering just about every current issue related to computer networks and distributed systems.
I’m pleased to note that Microsoft Research was among the sponsors of this conference and delivered two keynote presentations. Daron Green, a senior director at Microsoft Research Connections in Redmond, spoke on Living outside the Comfort Zone: Innovating through Research, an intriguing look into the future of collaborative computing technology and the role that Microsoft Research is playing in creating unique research opportunities, from highly configurable small-scale experimental devices to world-class cloud computing infrastructure. Feng Zhao, assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia, discussed Planet-Scale Sensing: from Lab to the Real World, which explored the major advances in sensor networks and their applications in such areas as energy consumption and urban planning.
We also had a booth at SBRC, where, among other relevant Microsoft Research projects, we were sharing information about our Microsoft Azure for Research program, which offers free training on using Microsoft Azure for scientific research, as well as substantial grants of cloud-computing resources for winning research proposals. The program includes a special request for proposals for the Brazilian scientific community, with a submission deadline of June 15. You can learn more about the program, including information on the RFP for the Brazilian scientific community at Microsoft Azure for Research.
The Microsoft booth at SBRC shared information about the Microsoft Azure for Research program, among other Microsoft Research projects.
The SBRC comes on the heels of Microsoft’s deployment of a datacenter in São Paolo, Brazil. This new facility gives Brazilian researchers a faster connection to Microsoft Azure’s highly scalable compute platform. Such local availability has resonated well with SBRC delegates—particularly those attending the Azure training we’ve offered as part of the conference—as they have seen virtual machines and storage provisioned for the first time in-country. At times, the Microsoft booth was swamped by attendees wishing to talk to us about how best to use Microsoft’s cloud and, of course, to pick up a cool Azure for Research T-shirt.
—Juliana Salles, Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections